ARREAU, France – In this tiny commune in the Pyrenees, granite massifs and blue-green forests rise, and we stand, myself and a crowd of several hundred, over baguettes and a sip of wine. We hear a loud scream and then look up the steep street to the east, where a human projectile dressed in aquamarine races around the corner. Team Astana Pello Bilbao embraces the upper cylinder of his motorcycle With his buttocks down, his head and torso stretched out over the front bars and looked like a tree sloth on a favorite branch. This human rocket moves on this long descent at the Tour de France with a speed of 75 km / h.
"Not much," he said. "I try to pray."
Vaya con dios and all that.
The victory in the Tour de France lasts in a three-week race lasting around 2,200 kilometers – this year from the English Channel to the Mediterranean and back to Paris. In these weary days of cobblestone and gravel racing and wet river valleys, no test stands as daunting and grand as the mountain ranges, the Pyrenees at the end of the second week and the Alps at the end of the third. 19659009] As a rider on these mountains, you need to feel your lungs squeeze and your red blood cells lose oxygen and the lactic acid in your legs swells. Once at the top, the cyclists of the Tour de France look for a possible advantage on the way down, no matter how shallow the nuts are.
Enter the super-bend.
The cyclist is said to slip from his bicycle seat and his body around the bike. In this way, a cyclist can minimize air resistance over the head, arms and legs. It is noticeable to watch and remarkably uncertain, as a driver can only brake back on the seat. It may also be that it is not quite as fast as cyclists think (more about that in a minute).
The origins of prey are difficult to pinpoint, though most believe it is no more than a decade old. Many cyclists blame the snowboarding culture and its ethos of joyful, hallucinatory risk.
The British champion Chris Froome, who is injured and misses this tour, has used the Super Tuck downhill and is one of the few who can pedal in this position by the way adds to his risk. The French cyclist Julian Alaphillippe, who has the control of an acrobat on his bike and the lead in this year's Tour, has dedicated himself to the Super Tuck. So far no one has fallen off a cliff, although some have come close.
A few days ago in the medieval town of Albi I went to the manager of the CCC team, Jim Ochowicz, a longtime veteran of the biker wars. What do you think of the Super Tuck? He shook his head sadly.
"I would never recommend it, not even an enemy," he replied. "You're going to be a cannonball."
I asked Dan Martin, a buffoon – O.K., a ubiquitous description of cyclists – racers from Ireland, the same question. He travels with UAE Team Emirates and was pronounced. The risk is encrypted while cycling, he said. He understands that. But come on …
"There is a part of us that is the eternal child who always wants to go down the hill as fast as possible," he said. "But I would not recommend anyone to try this at home. It's really dangerous."
Martin suggested that I watch a video on YouTube of Philippe Gilbert, a 37-year-old who was on the Deceuninck-Quickstep last year Gilbert was in the super-tuck situation when he reached a corner on the same street I saw Pello rush by and it did not end well.
Gilbert flew down the hill and turned a corner into a curve that was sharper than he realized.The second he slid back in his seat and hit the brakes, he ran out of the street: his bike collided with a stone wall, he emerged like a Jack
Fortunately, the gap was low and Gilbert was able to finish the stage despite a knee injury and the tour never lacks chaos, super tuck or no. This year there are more as a Dutze Cyclists withdrew after surviving everything from deep leg injuries to broken collarbones and arms. In the cost-benefit analysis, the scientists are less sure. Biking.com has deeply immersed in this method and found much skepticism regarding the claim of higher speed. If the crease does something, it may be that the technique makes it more difficult for a following cyclist to drive in the draft of the run-down leader.
"It's not so much that you drive faster, it's that others can." "I'm not following you," Martin said. "Well, yah, the science is a bit sketchy."
It was the search for the Super Tuck and its cousin-in-pain, the many thousand-foot climb that took me to the Pyrenees. Shortly after leaving Arreau, I thought I would join the race to Tourmalet, which at 6,938 feet is the highest paved pass in the French Pyrenees. I expected me to join the mountain goats and a few hundred robust souls cheering the boy.
Instead, I found a party on the mountain tailgate that would shame the Dallas Cowboys. Thousands and thousands of fans had pitched tents on the roadside or slept in cars and parked campers in the middle of herds of cows. On the morning of the race I woke up to the sight of lush gentlemen, little boys and mothers with toddlers in bicycle seats trampling up and down the steep hill.
Many had stuffed baguettes in rucksacks; a few pulled cooler beer. On the Tourmalet ridge thousands sat in a dizzying and blooming meadow like a natural IMAX theater. The flanks of the Pyrenees rose gray and jagged, and far below us the valley filled with clouds.
At 5 pm, the cyclists ascended and completed the steepest part of their up and down attack on the Pyrenees. fast super tucks mixed with excruciating climbs.
The next day, I met Laurens De Plus, a 23-year-old Belgian racer for the Jumbo Visma team, as he prepared for another day in the Pyrenees. De Plus is a climber, so at least he claims he likes those climbs and the crazy rides that go with them.
"Yah, I crash pretty hard a couple of times," he said. "It definitely stays in your head. But I need minutes on my way down, so I lie down.
"Then I say a little prayer, nothing goes wrong."